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    Posted June 30, 2014 by
    Aguas Calientes, Peru, Peru
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

    New life at ancient Machu Picchu


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Kris Dreessen is currently conquering her wanderlust with a round-the-world journey. She captured this tender moment during a visit to Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to the beauty of the ancient Inca Empire. Her image was featured as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day for August 26, 2014.

    Dreessen said, "The immensity and beauty of Machu Picchu is really breathtaking. As I walked around, then sat and gazed at it, and pondered what I was seeing and its history, what stays with me is how the Inca people built their sacred city — with rudimentary tools and massive rocks into temples that still stand — and how they built it to adapt to nature with an understanding and appreciation for their place within it."
    - taliaday, CNN iReport producer

    Watching the sun rise over the mountains and first hit the sun dial built by the ancient Quechua at Machu Picchu on the winter solstice in Peru, June 21, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Others were gathered at the Temple of the Sun to mark the occasion. For so long no one could find this place, and that's a huge part of why it was able to stay in tact for us to marvel at today. Condors and llamas were a huge part of society, and the Inca empire based their city and life around all nature. It gives us something to think about in this modern age, of manipulating or adapting to nature.
    Everything was made to last - forever - at Machu Picchu. Water still runs in the trenches from atop the mountain. The structures, built with giant rocks hauled by hands of many, are still in place.
    Llamas still live here, domestic and brought here because tourists like llamas. I saw hundreds of people take selfies with them, feed them and in some cases, follow them around when they wanted to be alone, to be close to them.
    In late afternoon, after the biggest crowds had left, I stopped to sit on the stairs near the Temple of the Condor, and stare out at the mountains beyond and think about what I saw.
    A mother llama and a baby, left alone now for some time, nuzzled, in front of the perfect Machu Picchu backdrop.
    I slowly walked up and took the photo, thinking it was a special moment in nature to capture, an ultimate travel photo for the World Wonder, and a good reminder of the link people - and animals and us with them - have, across all time periods.
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